Malilong: No senator from Cebu

Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, 1st District) is not seeking re-election next year, ending an illustrious political career that spanned more than half a century. A source very close to the family said that Gullas planned his retirement as early as in 2019, fifty years after he won as congressman of the district, then still known as the 3rd, by a slim margin of 16 votes over the late Antonio Cuenco. A formal announcement will be made after he has met with his political leaders, I was told.

Eddiegul is the only surviving member of the delegation from Cebu to the 7th Congress which was supposed to serve a four-year term starting in a January, 1970 but was unable to do so because Ferdinand Marcos abolished it when he declared martial law in 1972.

His colleagues from Cebu were Ramon Durano (1st District), John Osmeña (2nd), Gaudencio Beduya (4th), Emerito Calderon (5th), Manuel Zosa (6th) and Celestino Sybico (7th). Sybico and Calderon were sons-in-law of Durano, who was the acknowledged political kingpin of the province at that time. All six have passed, with Osmeña, who survived Covid-19 last year, only to succumb to cancer this year, as the latest.

With Eddiegul’s impending retirement, the burden of taking care of the affairs of the district will fall upon the young shoulders of his grandson, Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas. It is believed that Samsam will run for the seat vacated by his grandfather and which he used to occupy from 2013 to 2019.

Samsam will be pushing 38 in May next year, almost as old as Eddiegul was when he won in 1969. He has big shoes to fill but friends say confidently that he is cut for for the job. I remember Eddiegul telling me with undisguised pride in 2013 that Samsam was a tireless campaigner who had gone to places in the district that he had not visited even once.

Eddiegul has prepared Samsam well for his coming-out party in 2022. Besides, he will also still be around to give his grandson tips since he will be retiring only from public service, not from politics. But it will essentially be Samsam’s show, a chance for him to step out of the giant shadow cast by his famous grandfather. From what I hear from his friends, Samsam is ready.

Still on politics.

When two Cebuanos circulated a petition urging Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to run for the Senate, she quickly dismissed it. She had no plans of leaving Cebu, she said. She must have also found questionable the motive of the proponents, especially since she did not know them.

The governor cannot be faulted for her choice. Being governor of a province as big and as progressive as Cebu is much more powerful and fulfilling than being one of 24 senators.

On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that Cebu has had no representation in the Senate since the time of Sonny Osmeña. Some of the greatest Cebuano leaders had served in the Upper Chamber: Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Filemon Sotto, Vicente Sotto, Vicente Rama and Sergio Osmeña, to name only a few. Marcelo Fernan gave us the greatest reason to crow about our senators when he was elected Senate President.

With all due respect to the others, 3rd District Rep. Pablo John Garcia is the only Cebuano politician at present who has the best chance to become the senator who will make us proud. He is a bar topnotcher and is nationally known because he is a Deputy Speaker of the House. With President Duterte’s backing, he will be a sure winner.

So why not PJ?